Today, a taskforce from Business in the Community – the Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has issued a Call for Evidence on rebuilding and improving areas in the UK. Known as place-based regeneration, the evidence gathered will inform ongoing work on levelling up, as part of Business in the Community’s four decades of work supporting places at risk of being left behind.
Chaired by Lord Steve Bassam, the taskforce’s Call for Evidence aims to capture and showcase what works in transforming the prospects of a place, with the goal of creating a blueprint for business engagement in place-based transformation.
This Call for Evidence follows the UK Government’s announcement of the Prime Minister’s Levelling Up agenda and its flagship Partnerships for People and Place project, which focusses on improving communities in the UK.
For almost 40 years, Business in the Community has worked toward improving areas in need, by understanding the essential role business can play in place-based regeneration. Whilst the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda is very welcome, it must be a priority to not exclude places from this agenda, so that struggling areas are not further disadvantaged by the pandemic.
The role of business in place-based regeneration and transformation is essential and acts on the idea of solving problems that affect the economy of a place, so that no area is left behind. This placed-based regeneration is of particular importance now as communities recover from the pandemic.
The charitable organisation Local Trust identified 206 wards in the UK as qualifying as being left behind1 while other research suggests that tourist destinations risk being doubly economically vulnerable in the aftermath of the pandemic.2 With many communities that had struggled prior to the pandemic now set to be hardest hit by the long-lasting economic and social effects of COVID-19, the taskforce will collate evidence and inform policymakers on the crucial role business can play.
With a history of working in areas of need, Business in the Community has driven positive economic outcomes in Bradford, Rochdale, Coventry, Norwich, and St Austell. For example, by working with business and engaging with community leaders and local councils, Business in the Community supported a £39.5m Town Deal in Blackpool; enabled businesses to provide emergency food provision for vulnerable people in Lowestoft during the COVID-19 pandemic; and helped turn a vision for change in Wisbech into an implementation strategy supported by business, local government and community voices.
The Call for Evidence asks questions around five key themes:
- The key drivers and barriers for business engagement in place-based working.
- How organisations from across sectors (businesses, local or national government, civil societies, community organisations and social enterprises) can work together for the common good in a particular place.
- How business can have maximum impact through understanding past successes and failures.
- How those most at risk of economic and social exclusion, can benefit from place-based interventions and how businesses can engage with them
- Build on the momentum from the community self-organisation and cross-sector collaboration that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lord Steve Bassam, Place Director at Business in the Community, said:
“Our Place Taskforce aims to examine the role and value that businesses have in regenerating our poorest communities. Through our Call for Evidence, we want to identify what works and what doesn’t, so more businesses can work collaboratively to successfully support communities for years to come, informing the Government’s Levelling-Up agenda at a critical moment as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Baroness Jo Valentine, Place Director at Business in the Community, added:
“I am excited to learn how we can continue to improve how we bring civic leaders together to do the best that we can for places all across the UK.”
Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive at Business in the Community, said:
“Levelling up has been at the heart of our responsible business agenda for forty years and this Call for Evidence needs employers to share how we can all help improve our communities for the future. In short, our communities need you. Please get in touch.’’
The call for evidence is open for submissions until 5 November 2021, and seeks evidence from UK businesses, local councils, charities and non-governmental organisations, universities, and Local Enterprise Partnerships. Submissions are particularly welcome from organisations that have supported Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, as well as the LGBTQ+.community. Companies are encouraged to submit their evidence online. All findings will form the basis for a report to be released April 2022.